Some things you should know about a Costs Award in Supreme Court

We will be writing more on costs awards in Supreme Court in the coming months but we wanted to give you an idea of what costs awards are. A cost award is a monetary award that may be made against the unsuccessful party at the end of litigation. 

Just a note: representation costs and filing fees are not the same thing. Filing fees are what you must pay the court to file your claim or defence, or other notices. 

On the other hand, representation costs are the award that a judge may grant at the end of your case, or on interim motions, which orders the unsuccessful party to pay some of the successful party’s legal costs. 

The judge decides whether or not to award costs, and how much to award, in your case. However, it is important to know that if you are unsuccessful in your case, you may have to pay costs. These costs can be significant, especially if the other party is represented by a lawyer. 

If you do not think you will be able to pay a costs award and this would present a serious barrier to you in making or defending a claim you can bring a motion as soon as possible to ask the judge to exempt you from a representation costs aware. You will have to show evidence to prove your financial situation and that you will not be able to afford a costs award if you are unsuccessful. 

On the other hand, it is also important to note that even as a self-represented party you can ask the court to award costs against the other party if you are successful. It is important to keep track of all eligible costs so that if you are the successful party, you can ask the court for a costs award to partially reimburse these costs. 

One example of cost is that if you can show that the time you took to prepare for court or attend court took away from your ordinary income source, this can be included in a costs award. For example, if you had to take time off from your job to attend court, the judge can order the unsuccessful party to reimburse you through a costs award. This is often what the court will refer to as “opportunity costs.” Be sure to track any time off from your job, including vacation days you had to take, in order to prepare for or to attend court.

You can read more about Costs from the National Self Represented Litigants Project here. Or you can check back to our blog to learn more about what costs are, how to apply for them and how to apply for a waiver of costs. 

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4 thoughts on “Some things you should know about a Costs Award in Supreme Court

  1. Troy says:

    Thanks for this insight. Can you kindly provide the link or some direction on the form or process of such a motion in Ontario. I believe I certainly qualify for that cost award shelter. Best.

    1. ilana says:

      Hi Troy – check out the National website: http://www.representingyourselfCanada or email them at representingyourself@gmail.com

      They should be able to give you info on how to apply for a waiver for costs awards in Ontario – unfortunately we are only looking at Atlantic Canada right now.

      Much appreciated,

      1. Troy says:

        Hi Ilana- much appreciation for the response and suggestion. Best!

  2. RYAN H says:

    Good reminder – I learned the hard way. Opposing parties lawyer was belittling, continued to end each communication with a ” You’re over your head and should be seeking advice from counsel”. She warned Me of I proceeded that she would obtain costs. She was noted in Default as she failed to serve a copy of her Statement of Defence. She emailed the Queen’s Bench Clerk, told her she had filed in time and requested that the NOD be revoked. She then emailed Me to gloat, still had not served her SOD. So I waited, 3 weeks passed and nothing. I finally received an email from the QB clerk advising that NOD was revoked. I messaged back asking what authority she had to revoke it without a hearing. I received no response, I asked to be Sent copies of the emails as her actions were inappropriate and the Rules stated that opposing needs to be Cc’d to any correspondence to the Court. I received no reply, so I sent a request for opposing counsel to provide the emails asap. A week later I was served the SOD a month late along with an accompanying motion to summarily dismiss and her offer to settle. Which was drop your suit, not at all in keeping with recent caselaw regarding empty or meaningless offers to settle. I was also served 3 additional affidavits, 2 were exact repeats of her original affidavit. Queen’s Bench would not respond to my questions. The Motion was heard by a master who in 5 minutes was able to determine my claim had no merit. Opposing counsel made known prior to the decision that a formal offer was made and refused, the Master would not even hear arguments, he awarded her $ 5000.00 and dismissed my suit over a amenable misnomer. Telling me that I need to learn how this works and you don’t sue an individual you sue the business. So watch these tricks, I had legal shield to assist but unfortunately they would most unreliable and often did not provide answers in time. Follow the rules, do not deviate. Im taking this back to Court in a month. As for the opposing counsel I filed a complaint alledging litigation misconduct with the Law Society.

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